London, Apr 26 (AFP) Burnley midfielder Joey Barton said he had effectively been forced into “early retirement” after being banned for 18 months over betting offences by England’s Football Association today.
Barton, 34, was banned from “all football activity” after admitting a charge relating to 1,260 bets he placed on football matches between 2006 and 2016.
But he blamed his addiction to gambling and said he would appeal against the length of the ban.
“I am very disappointed at the harshness of the sanction,” Barton said in a lengthy 1,500-word statement on his personal website.
“The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. To be clear from the outset here this is not match-fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question.
“I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players.
“I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem.”
In a statement, the FA said: “Joey Barton has been suspended from football and all football activity for 18 months with immediate effect after he admitted an FA misconduct charge in relation to betting.” The outspoken Barton, whose former clubs include Manchester City, Newcastle United, Marseille and Rangers, has also been fined 30,000 ($38,490, 35,330 euros) and warned as to his future conduct.
In his statement, Barton said he had held a betting account with a major British bookmaker since 2004 and had placed over 15,000 bets across a range of sports.
He admitted to having bet on his own teams to lose matches — without specifying the clubs — but said it was only in games in which he was not involved.
“I have never placed a bet against my own team when in a position to influence the game,” he said.
“I am pleased that in all of the interviews with the FA, and at the (disciplinary) hearing, my integrity on that point has never been in question.”
Barton, capped once by England, rejoined Burnley last year after an unsuccessful stint with Scottish giants Rangers.
In a brief statement, Burnley confirmed Barton’s intention to appeal against the length of his suspension.
Barton’s ban is the latest in a string of controversies to have marked his career.
In May 2008, the Liverpudlian was jailed for six months over a late-night attack on a man and a teenage boy in Liverpool city centre.
In July of that year, he was given a four-month suspended jail term for attacking his then Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in training.
He has also been charged with violent conduct three times by the FA. (AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.